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Old 07-01-2009, 02:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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100 mile range Ranger EV?

The jolt ailing industry needs?

Bob Albertson, a 72-year-old serial inventor, thinks he's created something that will revolutionize the auto industry.

At his home just south of this tiny city on the Mississippi River, Albertson built a fully electric Ford Ranger pickup truck that he's 99 percent certain Ford Motor Co. will want to mass-produce.

"They'd be nuts not to," said the man whose inventions include the pulsating shower massager, the Mr. Coffee coffee maker and the eight-track tape player -- which he sold to Bill Lear of Learjet. His nearly finished electric pickup can go 100 miles -- better than many electric prototypes from the auto industry -- before it needs to recharge for five hours.

With car manufacturers around the world scrambling to produce the first successful mass-produced all-electric vehicle, the electric Ranger Albertson has spent the past two years working on might be just in time.

The Obama administration has already toughened fuel economy regulations for automakers, and the Department of Energy has set aside a $25 billion fund specifically for the development of new fuel-efficient vehicles.

Last week Ford received a $5.9 billion loan from the fund to help transform plants in five Midwestern states with plans to manufacture hybrids and electric vehicles. The loan is unrelated to the bailout funds given to Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Corp.

The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker is planning to release two new fully electric vehicles in the next two years.

Tesla Motors Inc. and Nissan Motors Co. also received similar government loans Tuesday for $465 million and $1.6 billion, respectively. Tesla already makes a high-performance electric roadster that can travel 244 miles on a single charge and costs more than $100,000. Nissan plans to release an electric car in 2010, the same year GM plans to release its highly anticipated Chevy Volt. General Motors hopes the Volt, designed to get 40 miles on an electric charge before supplemental power kicks in, will become a key component in its resurgence as America's largest car company.

"It's a significant investment for us," Chevy spokesman Dave Darovitz said. "The Volt is one of the most advanced vehicles we've ever put out."

Electric vehicles have been around almost as long as cars themselves. But once Henry Ford was able to mass-produce the internal combustion gasoline engine, and the discovery of Texas crude oil dropped gas prices, electric vehicles with limited range pretty much put themselves out of commission.

A push from California in the 1990s brought new life to the electric car concept -- the state eventually passed a mandate requiring 2 percent of vehicles sold in the state to be emission-free. GM produced the EV1 and other automakers also had electric vehicles, but after the California mandate was repeatedly scaled back, they have been little more than golf carts in high-end communities.

Ford even manufactured an electric Ranger in the late '90s, but halted production of the trucks after only a few years, eventually recalling them for reported performance problems. The company ended up scrapping almost all of the models.

But with growing concern over global warming and enough American drivers apparently interested in fuel efficiency for the first time in 40 years, many predict plug-in electric vehicles will become mainstream in the near future.

An 'indestructible' transmission

Albertson lives with his wife in an old converted restaurant decorated with newspaper clippings and prototypes of his previous inventions, which also include what has become the trolling motor, and the electric weedeater.

The man who describes himself as a "self-taught automotive engineer," has more than 200 patents to his name and has sold or licensed 47 products.

"I try to do things inexpensively and practically," he said while fiddling with a pair of magnets at his dining room table.

The key to Albertson's latest creation is the transmission, which doesn't run on fluids, but rather uses high-powered magnets. He says the transmission is "indestructible."

The truck is powered by six deep-cycle car batteries that are hooked up to a 100-horsepower electric motor, and tops out at 80 miles per hour. The truck uses absolutely no gasoline -- Albertson insists on calling the truck's gas pedal an accelerator.

But Albertson didn't just set out to build an electric vehicle. His aim was to save the Ford plant in St. Paul, which builds Ford's small Ranger pickup truck. Both the plant and the vehicle are on the chopping block, with the more than 80-year-old facility on the Mississippi River scheduled to close in 2011. The plant employs about 1,000 workers.

He says Ford could produce his vehicle at the St. Paul plant and sell it brand-new for about $22,000, cheaper than most hybrid vehicles on the market.

Albertson showed his truck off at the State Fair last summer, but he's still working on finishing touches. He thinks it will be completely finished in less than two months, and the tentative plan is to have Ford look at the prototype by the end of this summer. No meeting is currently booked, though.

Albertson has also been contacting Ford dealers about selling transmission kits that Ranger owners could use to convert their gas pickups to electric by having their engines swapped out at the dealership. He said several dealers have already claimed to be interested in the kits, which he estimates would sell for $12,900.

Albertson got started on the pickup after the Auto Workers of Minnesota -- a nonprofit group comprised of about 17 members dedicated to saving the Ford plant -- bought him a Ranger, hoping he would be able to convert it.

The state kicked in a $150,000 grant, half of which went to the development of Albertson's new electric Ranger.

"What he has put together to this point is really some of the best technology out there," said Gary Muenzhuber, who helped start Auto Workers of Minnesota.

Many have tried to save the plant before. Since 2005, when the Ranger's sales fell as a redesigned F-150 became more popular, politicians from around the state, including Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Republican Norm Coleman and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, have been trying to persuade Ford to keep the plant running.

Currently, there is a bill waiting in the Legislature that would require local and state governments to have at least a 25 percent electrical vehicle fleet by 2015.

Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, who co-authored the bill, said if the legislation passes, the state would end up buying up to 5,000 of the electric Rangers, assuming Ford decides to play ball.

"All the pieces are there; all that's left is to get Ford to work with us," Rukavina said.

Ford, for its part, says it has no plans to resurrect any model of the electric Ranger, said spokeswoman Jennifer Moore. Minnesota was not one of the five states mentioned for getting a retooled auto plant with the federal loans.

Still, Albertson and the Auto Workers of Minnesota hope the legislation will push Ford to consider the electric truck.

"[Ford] is understandably a little skeptical," said Mike Freeman, Hennepin County attorney and chairman of the auto workers group. "Everyone says they have great ideas."

Freeman agreed to chair the group because he's friends with some of its members. He said it has nothing to do with his responsibilities as county attorney.

"It's a commendable thing that retired workers are trying to help their brothers and sisters while they could just go off fishing," he said. "If I can't stop to help some friends with this, then what the hell kind of a friend am I?"

Jim Reinitz, vice president of the United Auto Workers 879 and executive director of the Auto Workers of Minnesota, isn't just fighting to save his friends' jobs, he's also fighting for his own. Reinitz has worked at the Ford plant in St. Paul since 1997 and said the local union fully supports Albertson's work.

"Right now a lot of people are looking to Washington [D.C.] and Detroit for solutions. I think we need to start looking locally," Reinitz said.

Alex Robinson 612-673-7405

************************************************** *

Does this pass the smell test? Presumeably 36 or 72v with that speed and range? And what is all that about an "electric transmission"?

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Old 07-01-2009, 04:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Yeah, maybe. Top speed of 80 mph with enough gears, and 100 mile range at 22 mph to 100% DOD. Either that, or he's found 6V deep cycle batteries that are 400 lbs. each. :-)
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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EV facts notwithstanding, if the guy has the history laid out here, maybe he's onto something.

Or, he's just looking for that last glimmer of spotlight to shine on him before he passes? He's getting up there in age, so I guess either scenario applies.

I'd like to see it be something close to real, though.
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Sounds riddled with nonsense. If he is using a 100 hp rated motor it would be WAY oversized.
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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more... Electric Car Alternative | Fuel Efficient Cars | Mag-Trans Corporation | Fuel Efficient Vehicles

Just doesn't add up with what I think I know about EVs.

Not enough battery for that performance. No need for a trans like that. Etc.
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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More gold from two years ago: Alma inventor to unveil electric truck prototype : La Crosse Tribune

Published - Thursday, October 18, 2007

Alma inventor to unveil electric truck prototype
By Chris Hubbuch | Lee Newspapers


.
A Wisconsin man with a long track record of improbable inventions is planning to unveil an electric truck today in hopes of raising more money to finish his prototype.

Bob Alberston has been working for the past four months at his Alma shop to put an electric motor in a new Ford Ranger given to him in May by members of the United Auto Workers Local 789 in hopes that Albertson’s invention could ultimately save thousands of union jobs.

Albertson, 70, is now hoping to market his idea through Ford dealers. He hasn’t talked to Ford about it, but hopes dealers will buy kits from him. He said dealers could make money reselling the engines and other parts they take out and then sell the trucks � which have a stock sticker price of $12,700 � for about $26,000.

The way Albertson figures it, the consumer would recoup more than $20,000 in fuel costs over five years of driving.

He hopes that Ford will like the idea enough to pick it up and build the electric Rangers at the St. Paul plant, which is scheduled to close next year.

Sugar Loaf Ford co-owner Mike Puetz said he likes the idea of an electric truck, but was dubious of the plan to distribute it as an aftermarket kit. While dealers are free to offer modifications, he guessed an electric truck would more likely have to come from the plant.

“I’d be interested in that technology. I think it’s a neat idea,” he said, “provided it works.“

Albertson is still working out some kinks.

Last week, the throttle control wasn’t working. Albertson was expecting a replacement to arrive by FedEx, but agreed to demonstrate anyway.

Wearing his trademark U.S. Air Force cap and a belt full of gadgets, he switched some wires to bypass the throttle, climbed in the truck and flipped a toggle switch under the steering wheel. The motor sounded a little like a vacuum cleaner as it whirred to life at 3,600 rpm.

This is the key to Albertson’s design: His motor is always running at top speed. Same with the motor in the truck.

Rather than speeding up and slowing down, the motor stays at its peak efficiency, and Albertson’s patented magnetic clutch pulls off as much power as needed. This means the motor doesn’t have to start up from zero, where it is less efficient.

Albertson put the truck in gear and fired up the motor again. The truck lurched forward, jostling the gasoline engine, radiator, exhaust system and other obsolete parts sitting in the bed. Albertson grinned as he drove laps around the lot in front of his home south of Alma. Round and round, he passed an assortment of cars, boats, lawnmowers, tractors, the aging bus converted to an RV, and an amphibious vehicle of his own invention that never quite caught on.

On this day, the truck was powered by four lead-acid car batteries. Albertson’s design calls for more powerful, faster charging lithium ion batteries.

About 12:45 p.m., to Albertson’s delight, a FedEx truck rumbled up the road.

Albertson’s helper, Mark Peterson, a welder from Rochester, Minn., used an electric drill to pull the bad throttle and bolt the new one in place. Albertson then set to wiring it. At one point, fumbling to tighten one of the hard-to-reach nuts, Albertson stopped and turned his wrench around. He chastised himself: “I should use my wrench the right way.“

His wrench is a “posi-grip” clutch-drive ratchet of Albertson’s design that works in particularly tight spaces.

Albertson has hundreds of patents to his name and is used to people calling him crazy. Years ago, he put a sewing machine motor on a stick, attached a piece of fishing line, and the weed whacker was born. In the 1980s, he started selling private pay phones, and successfully sued to force AT&T to provide service for them.

With the new throttle installed, Albertson climbed back into the truck and flipped the switch. Silence. Peterson monitored lights on the device as Albertson moved the accelerator pedal up and down. Diagnosis � not working.

“I’m going to have a nice phone call with them again,” Albertson said. “That thing is too sophisticated for me.“

Albertson was waiting for another replacement throttle Wednesday but was upbeat about a new idea for a simpler controller. Either way, he said, the truck would be running when he shows it off today for potential investors.

What the truck won’t yet have is the magic, the lithium batteries and recharging system that Albertson says will convert road vibrations and solar energy into electricity and help give the truck a 300-mile range on a three-hour charge.

He said he needs about $165,000 to finish it.

Last spring, Gary Muenzhuber, a retired autoworker and lobbyist with the UAW Local 789, and some other union members formed a nonprofit called Autoworkers of Minnesota to purchase the truck and lobby the state for startup money. Their plan then was to unveil the prototype at the State Fair and tour it around the state this fall.

Muenzhuber said Wednesday he is confident the state will come through in the coming weeks with a $150,000 grant. Muenzhuber and Albertson both think the prototype truck can be finished within a month or so of getting the money.

But Alberston isn’t waiting. He said he needs to put down payments on orders for batteries and rechargers before others beat him to it. Tesla Motors has been working on an electric sports car that it says will go into production in 2008, and Phoenix Motorcars has announced plans to begin selling an electric SUV as early as the end of this year.

“I’ve been waiting for months already,” he said. “I can’t wait. The race has started.”
************************************************** ************

Oh... right... electric motors don't develop max torque until high rpm.

$20,000 fuel costs in 5 years?!?

Sorry I wasted y'all's time.

Last edited by Frank Lee; 07-01-2009 at 04:48 PM..
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Okay, it's now officially totally bogus. I drive 36,000 miles per year, and at $4.00/gallon, I would only spend $18,900 over 5 years for fuel. Unless this is an over-unity machine, he's not saving me $20,000 per year.
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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20G over 5 years
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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K, so that's 4k a year... fuel is $4/gallon, that's 1000 gallons of fuel/year.

1000 gallons of fuel/15k miles (average) 15MPG.

Most of the country (I hope) gets better mileage than this, and this figure assumes prices and usage in favor of the "inventor".
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Went to Google Patents and searched for "Robert V. Albertson", "patents" not applications & patents. Total # 46 patents. Could not find one patent that mentioned "transmission" & "magnet". The only "transmission" patent I could find was for a two speed bicycle transmission.

Regarding his Electric Ranger pickup with 3 batteries. Generating DC current from the vertical movement (he calls vibration) of the suspension system, "a solar panel" (his quote) and a system to convert the vehicle's DC motor to a generator while slowing or braking (US Patent # 6483268).

If it sounds to good to be true...

Maybe Albertson is related to Albert Gore!

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